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book info
Posted: 20/06/2009 by winnie


I've just bought a book on russian torts and have a little question. In the book it says that in the wild aswell as eating leaves they also eat fruit. If this is so then why is fruit not advised for feeding to torts?

The book is called Russian Tortoises by E J Pirog

Re: book info
Posted: 20/06/2009 by kirkie

Hi Winnie,

My view is that in the wild tortoises will take windfall fruit they may encounter as an occasional addition to their diet much in the way they will take insects and the like as a "protein boost". In captivity fruit, if given regularly, interupts the PH levels of the gut, the increased acidity in the gut may interfere with the beneficial gut bacteria, bacteria which aid the tortoise with the digestion of its food. I believe this is why a diet of fruit results in runny stools, the bacteria either cannot aid the digestion of the fruit or the fruit acids kills off the beneficial bacteria leaving the fruit to pass through the gut not fully digested. In addition fructose, a natural sugar, occurs in most fruits and tortises are geared towards low energy foods.

Personally I don't feed my Horsfields any fruit, my Hermanns may get an occasional blackberry or similar berry but it is a rare treat for them. I feel that Hermanns in their natural habitat would be more likely to encounter fallen fruits and with the tiny quantities they receive I have never seen any averse outcome.

Re: book info
Posted: 21/06/2009 by Nina

Hi Winnie,

Kirkie has given a really good explanation of why fruit should not be given to Horsfields (and tomatoes count as fruit). I've got Ed's book on Russian tortoises, and although he does say (on p. 12) that in the wild these tortoise will feed on fruit and berries that fall to the ground, he also recommends (on pp. 75 and 76) that these tortoises have adapted to feed on dry items and so moist items should be avoided -- especially very moist fruits. I do disagree with his statement that apples, pears and berries can be fed in moderation -- for the reasons that Kirkie gave -- as although they are not toxic to tortoises they have potential for upsetting the gut flora, and so it is really not worth it.


Re: book info
Posted: 21/06/2009 by winnie

Hi Kirkie and Nina

  Thanks for clearing that question up for me. I haven't finished reading the book yet, maybe I should of read on before I asked the question. I haven't fed Queenie any fruit so there's no worries there, she'd probably turn her nose up to them anyway as she seems to be addicted to dandies which she dives on before I've even finished putting them in. Don't even think I'd tempt fruit as a treat after reading your replies. Think we'll stick to the weeds!


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